Ubisoft is challenging DRM-hating gamers to put their money where their mouths are by releasing the new Prince of Persia title with no copy protection whatsoever, even though the company doesn't appear to have much hope that it will work out.
DRM is a touchy topic for both gamers and game publishers these days: Publishers keep searching for new and better ways to protect their investments, while gamers push just as hard in the opposite direction, pirating games as much for spite as anything else. Electronic Arts easily leads the pack in terms of both aggressive implementation of DRM in its games and vicious and focused consumer backlash against its policies: Spore, which quickly became emblematic of customer dissatisfaction with the company, was burdened with possibly the harshest form of SecuROM copy protection ever seen, and yet was recently cited as the most illegally-downloaded game of 2008.
Whether or not rampant EA hate had any bearing on Ubisoft's decision is debatable, but there it is nonetheless: The retail version of Price of Persia has no DRM at all. (Copies purchased via Steam will still make use of Steam's validation system.) How much of an impact that will have on illegal distribution of the game remains to be seen, and Community Developer Chris "UbiRazz" Easton, for one, isn't holding his breath for good things.
"You're right when you say that when people want to pirate the game they will, but DRM is there to make it as difficult as possible for pirates to make copies of our games," he wrote in a post on the Ubisoft forums. "A lot of people complain that DRM is what forces people to pirate games but as PoP PC has no DRM we'll see how truthful people actually are. Not very, I imagine."
Despite his weary tone, however, Easton offered a little personal encouragement to people who don't copy the game. "I'm fairly skeptical as [DRM] is an easy answer given by a lot of people why they pirate games," he wrote, "but if you're going to buy this game instead of pirating purely because of no DRM in the store version then if I ever meet you in real life I'll happily shake your hand and buy you a drink."
So what do you think? Will the absence of DRM lead to lower rates of piracy (and more drinks bought in Montreal), or just a new batch of excuses and rationalizations? There's no doubt the game will be pirated; the only question is how much. To paraphrase Shane Kim (and Reggie Fils-Aime and just about everyone else in the business these days), I'm cautiously pessimistic: I'd love to see gamers use this opportunity to demonstrate that their beefs are legitimate and not just easy justifications for bad behavior, but I'm not particularly hopeful.
via: Ars Technica